On to part two of our look at the Steelers camp battles. As usual the same
old questions remain….is the secondary going to be good enough and is the team injecting enough youth to continue their dominating play?
|97||Worilds, Jason||OLB||6-2||262||23||2||Virginia Tech|
|54||Carter, Chris||LB||6-1||248||22||R||Fresno State|
|90||Ellis, Chris||LB||6-4||261||26||3||Virginia Tech|
|48||Ivy, Mortty||LB||6-1||239||25||1||West Virginia|
|46||McCoy, Chris||LB||6-3||261||24||1||Middle Tennessee State|
|94||Timmons, Lawrence||LB||6-1||234||25||5||Florida State|
|92||Harrison, James||OLB||6-0||242||33||8||Kent State|
Your starting LBs are Woodley, Timmons, Farrior, Harrison….the best group of LBs in the league and it's not even close. The Steelers always replenish this position with young studs and this camp is no different. Stevenson Sylvester was very impressive last year and looks like he can contribute on ST while being groomed for an ILB job. Farrior is getting up there in age so we need to keep an eye out for the next great Steelers ILB.
Worilds is a guy we will all focus on during the exhibition games. For every Home Run (Timmons/Woodley) we get from the draft we also get our share of bums (Bruce Davis, Rian Wallace, Alonzo Jackson, etc…) let's hope Worilds can step up and provide some solid ST play, situational pass rush, and show flashes of developing into a starter one day. If he fails, what a waste of a 2nd round pick, eh? Take a look at the 2nd round picks the Steelers have whiffed on: Worilds?, Urbik, Sweed, Colclough, Alonzo Jackson, Scott Shields, Will Blackwell, Steve Conley. Just awful.
Baraka Atkins is a DL but is listed as a LB on the Steelers roster for some reason, not sure why. Chris Carter and Mario Harvey come with a lot of college hype so I will focus on these guys during the preseason. Both are “Steeler LB” in terms of their ferociousness and physical style but that doesn't guarantee a roster spot. If one of these guys steps up Larry Foote is a goner.
|26||Allen, Will||S||6-1||200||29||8||Ohio State|
|25||Clark, Ryan||FS||5-11||205||31||10||Louisiana State|
|29||Mundy, Ryan||FS||6-1||209||26||3||West Virginia|
|23||Lewis, Keenan||CB||6-0||208||25||3||Oregon State|
|20||McFadden, Bryant||CB||6-0||190||29||7||Florida S
|39||Allen, Cortez||DB||6-1||196||22||R||The Citadel|
Ah yes, the most concerning position on the roster. The position that cost us a Super Bowl and is seemingly the only reason we don't go undefeated each year. Why do we lost to the Saints, Patriots, Packers? Because they spread the ball and throw it on us. This secondary will determine our season, as it does most years. I hate having to “avoid” the Patriots in order to get to the Super Bowl each year but it's a must when you field a secondary like ours. Last year I sat and watched the NFC Championship gaming knowing the winner of that game would determine the Super Bowl winner. If Chicago wins that game, the Steelers have another ring right now. If the Packers win, they throw the ball all over us and our chances to win are slim. That's just the way it is when you have a secondary built to tackle and play physical rather than a secondary designed to cover speedy/quick WRs and defend passes.
Polamalu is a beast, no question about that. When he's injured though, he's a shell of his former self and can be picked on.
Ryan Clark is a tough, physical safety but can be beaten in coverage if teams pick on him.
Ike Taylor is a shut-down CB. Very lucky to have him to say the least. McFadden and Gay will fight for the #2 CB and Nickel spots. Clearly this is the most concerning position on the defense. McFadden gave up 13 catches in one game last year to Roddy White. Think they watched tape and found the defense's weakness? These 2 need to step their games up. Remember the Patriots game last year when Willie Gay got burned alive by rookie TEs? No excuse for that. These guys “are what they are” though and they probably are not going to get much better. Willie Gay was a Free Agent this offseason…did you see anybody beating down his door to steal him from us?
The back-up safeties are a decent group (Mundy, Allen) and are more special teams guys than “starters in waiting”.
The Cornerbacks (outside of Taylor) are the big concern. Curtis Brown is well thought of but I've learned my lesson…I'm not expecting SQUAT from any of our drafted corners. The Steelers have proven over time that they are not capable of scouting/drafting/developing CBs. Ike Taylor is the only exception. Since Chad Scott was drafted in Round 1 back in the day they have swung and missed about a dozen times. Every year we have young CBs (via the draft) that are athletic, fast, tough, etc…and then they turn out to be bums. Cortez, Curtis, Donovan, Keenan, Crezdon, Niles, etc….are not getting the benefit of the doubt from me. If the Steelers scouted you and brought you in to camp then history has taught me that you are a sub par cover corner. Prove me wrong. How/If these guys develop will be a key to our season. Watch the preseason games and pray one or two of these guys pans out.
(Can you tell I really, really, really wanted the Steelers to sign a UFA corner or trade for one this offseason?)
|61||Boyle, Ty||DE||6-4||286||23||R||North Dakota|
|95||Heyward, Cameron||DE||6-5||288||22||R||Ohio State|
|99||Keisel, Brett||DE||6-5||285||32||10||Brigham Young|
|91||Smith, Aaron||DE||6-5||298||35||13||Northern Colorado|
|67||Gray, Anthony||DT||6-0||317||23||R||Southern Mississippi|
|76||Hoke, Chris||NT||6-2||305||35||10||Brigham Young|
Youth has been served as this old and gray position has been spruced up with some solid depth. I love Aaron Smith as much as the next guy but Ziggy Hood was so impressive towards the end of this past season that one has to wonder if the timeshare between the two will look drastically different this upcoming season. Hood was drafted in Round 1, has shown improvement, and needs to see the field. Smith could benefit from some more time off and a Smith/Hood rotation is rock solid. Keep everyone fresh and injury free. Cam Heyward was just drafted in Round 1 and will probably see the field as much as Hood did in his rookie year; random snaps here or there but will probably not be a huge contributor. If he knocks our socks off in the preseason maybe he works himself into the rotation earlier that expected? That would be a nice surprise and would give the coaching staff even more options with the DL rotation. I'd love to see some exotic fronts where a bunch of our DE/NT get on the field at the same time.
With the DE position locked up for years to come we turn to the interior of the line. It seems like we have been trying to find “the next Hampton” for some time and that search continues with Anthony Gray, Sonny Harris, and Steve McLendon. The last 2 guys actually looked pretty solid last year so I feel good about the backup NT spot. Hoke is a great backup but you would like one of these other guys to be able to fill in as well. Allegedly, Anthony Gray has been turning heads in camp. Boyle, Chavis, and Bryant look like training camp fodder but you never know.
Looking forward to preseason game 1. We'll have a lot more to look at, break down, and highlight. Until then it's all speculation and overreacting to tweets/quick hitters coming out of Latrobe. “Worilds just demolished Legursky in backs on backers drills!!!” So what, it's one drill, in a practice.; let's now overreact or judge too soon. Next Friday can't come soon enough, we'll grab some screens/video and go to town.